Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Chick Duplex

At the last chick update, the chicks were outgrowing their current brooder space.

Remember how I've been using the thermometer to gauge the chicks growth?
That green tape you see behind these four?  That's the thermometer.
They are now as tall - if not taller than - the thermometer on that back wall.
I'd say it's high time they have more space to spread their wings.

Originally our plan was simply to make a second brooder and separate the chicks into two equal groups.  Making a duplicate once they were bigger.  That changed the more we thought about it.  The chicks have been together since the beginning and have probably started to develop a bit of 'pecking order'.  We didn't want to separate them out and cause any distress.

So, our new plan was to build a chicken apartment.  A duplex if you will.

Making their current quarters more expansive to allow increased space for ALL the chicks without any separation.

Planning began.

We had an idea to connect the two bins with a 'tube' of some sort to make a tunnel from one container to the other.  Resulting in the duplex - in essence.  The problem was, it needed to be a good sized tube that the chicks could walk through. They weren't little bitty anymore.

Off to the store we went.

We searched for conduit of some kind that we thought would work.  It had to be big enough.  Sturdy enough.  We found..... NOTHING!  Well, I found one heavy, metal pipe like thing, but it was too big -- too heavy.

We started to leave the hardware store, a bit discouraged by our lack of purchase options.  As we were walking down the main aisle, an end cap caught my eye.  It was filled with bottles of some sort of solution.  (What was in them didn't matter, it was the vessel that got my brain whirling.)
The jugs resembled big gallon containers of vinegar that we had at home.

The lightbulb went off.  We could cut the top and bottom off of a vinegar bottle and make the tunnel.


Cheap - well, free - since we had vinegar bottles at home; light weight; easy to cut; big enough for adolescent chicks to trundle through to get to the other side of the chick brooder duplex.


Once we figured that out, we felt we were ready to begin construction.

Here's where everything went amuck.

After cutting the vinegar bottle to make the tunnel - which was the easiest part of this whole escapade - we traced the circle for the opening on the second bin.  This would become the hole where the tunnel would be -- connecting one section to the next.

Then....... I began cutting.

If you recall our original brooder post, you'll remember that the plastic was a royal pickle to cut through.  Once you got the Exacto knife to penetrate the plastic, you had to be very careful or the plastic just 'shattered and splintered' instead of 'cutting' along the nice line you had envisioned.

I had made provisions for this and bought 'special tools' to accomplish this endeavor.

You guessed it.......    they didn't work so well.

Barely at all, in fact.

After a good half hour of attempting to cut out this one circle; I had cut through......  oh maybe......... an inch to an inch and a half curve.

You have got to be kidding me.

That's it?

Scanning the remaining portion of the circle that needed to be cut; then glancing over at the second brooder bin that would ALSO need a circle cut out of it; I instantly changed plans mid course.

That little one inch 'slice' wouldn't compromise the integrity of a second brooder.

We were back to plan A.

Pecking order or no pecking order, the chicks were gonna be separated.

I consoled myself with the knowledge they would at least have enough space this way.  {Funny how we play mind tricks on ourselves, isn't it?}

Justification at it's best.

So, we simply cut a hole out of the top of the second lid to the second bin and cut wire mesh to attach to the top.  Once again, duct tape proved to be the best medium to attach said wire.  Next we taped the thermometer to the wall; affixed paper towels to the bottom of the bin to keep the chicks from slipping around; covered the bottom w/pine shavings; placed a waterer inside; and repurposed an ice cube tray to be a feeder; and.........
The new ice cube tray chicken feeder.  They already emptied one cube.


Chicken brooder number 2 was ready for occupancy.
The new brooder with it's four tenants making themselves at home.
You can see my attempt at cutting out the 'hole' there on the front.
Yep, that's all a 1/2 hour of work produced.
I think they are happy in their new digs.
The Dark Brahma - my chick as the kids say - looks like she's thinking,
"At least it's roomier than the last place.  Sharing w/3 others instead of 7."

We decided to put these 4 in the new brooder.
The Dark Brahma; 2 Golden Wyandotte; and the Columbian Wyandotte.
Figured they were the 'odd balls out' so they should stick together.

Here's Elijah's chick.
Unnamed currently, but we love her colors.

Ideal?  No.

As cool as a chicken brooder duplex?  Not by a long shot.

Would I rather keep the chicks all together allowing THEM to determine who goes to the other side, who doesn't, and when?  You bet.

 But... necessity took precedence and we.........
We kept the four Speckled Sussex
together.  Just seemed logical.


All four seem to be adapting,
even if they do look a bit skeptical
about the whole shebang.


Later, we may add roosting branches, but in reality I'm hoping they can move out to the 'big girl coop' sooner than later.

{They'd already be there if we lived in a warmer climate that didn't have 6 inches of snow in May, but... I digress.  
We don't, so they aren't.}

At the very least, the chicks are no longer over crowded.  They have room to move about without smooshing (a very technical term) one another.

I'll call it a win for improvisation and meeting the specified need we had.  :-)

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